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Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley address members of the media during the post cabines press briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s yesterday.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley yesterday accused local media houses of not being independent, as he lashed out at the what he called reportage with an agenda on the visit of Venezuela Vice-President Delcy Rodriguez in recent weeks.

Speaking during yesterday’s post-Cabinet media briefing, Rowley, who kicked off the session by addressing the issue of truth and falsehoods in the public domain on the issue, said, “In Trinidad and Tobago, let me say this here now, we don’t have an independent, or we don’t have independent media houses in Trinidad and Tobago. What we have are media houses that have interests to protect.

“And if you think I don’t know what is going on, I know exactly what is going on and I will speak to it in full at future times.”

Although he was hesitant at first to reveal what the interests of media houses were, he eventually offered an explanation after being pressed.

“You don’t know what the interest is? The time has come for the population to know what the interest is because apparently, you don’t know,” he told reporters.

“One media house is owned by a business conglomerate that has interest and the Government has taken decisions that’s unfavourable to their interest. The other one, right, has business with the state which the Government is not facilitating and then obviously the Government is making enemies because they have interest to protect, we have interest to protect.

“Our interest is to protect the interest of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, their interest is to protect their financial bottom line and on many occasions, we stand in the way. The Government stands in the way of that.”

He told reporters if they were not aware of this they should be.

“And then you would believe that what you see there is pure as the driven snow and that there is no motive behind a lot of what has been harassing the psyche of the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” he said.

Rowley made the argument as he said some media houses had been pursuing an agenda in the matter of Rodriguez’s visit to T&T and her meeting with him and the possible trouble it had caused with diplomatic relations with the United States over a possible breach of the Rio Treaty. He also accused the Opposition of spreading fake news on this and the matter of five Iranian ships recently delivering fuel to Venezuela, which he said T&T had nothing to do with because the ships were never entering our waters.

On the Rodriguez meeting, he reiterated that he met with the Venezuela Vice-President and Asdrubal Chavez, whom nobody introduced in the meeting as president of PDVSA because he had not been yet appointed to the post. He said the rest of Rodriguez’s delegation were in a separate meeting room in the Diplomatic Centre and he did not encounter any of them.

When pressed about why Chavez was at a meeting to discuss COVID-19 matters, Rowley said, “You have to ask the Vice-President of Venezuela that, I did not pick her delegation for her. I spoke only to the Vice-President, so if she brings a delegation it is not for me to determine,” he said.

Rowley said when he went to Ghana earlier, he too took a delegation and was never questioned about his selection.

Asked again why Chavez would be in a meeting on security related to COVID-19, Rowley said he only spoke to Rodriguez in the meeting although Chavez was there too.

“Why I want to put that to bed, you are never going to accept what I am telling you because you have a problem with the truth. That is the problem.

“If you know something else you tell me, you tell the country. I am telling you the truth, so when you tell me to come clean and I have told you all the truth you are asking me to lie. To protect myself, I’m noting going to do that, to protect the Government, I’m not going to do that, to create more stories, I’m not going to do that. That is what it is.”

He accused the media of engaging in speculation and “misrepresentation” of the facts.

“Last week I took careful note of a number of instances of misrepresentations by elements of the local media who do that in furtherance of the preservation of their own interests,” he said.

“You want me to come clean? I have nothing more to add.”

Rowley said people had difficulty accepting truth because there had been so many lies told to the country for so long, “particularly by persons who are protective of their office and their position.”

“I have taken the position that what I say must be truthful and cannot be rebutted by any other information which is also truthful,” Rowley said.